Question and Answer with Tom Moore
Tom Moore is best known for putting together Tony Dungy’s 2007 Super Bowl winning offense with the Indianapolis Colts, but Tom also helped Chuck Noll’s Steelers win 2 Super Bowls as well. Coach Moore is widely recognized as an offensive guru ( a term I know he hates). He also took a proverbial have not Detroit Lions and directed the Lions to lead the NFL in offense.
Coach Moore’s grooming of Peyton Manning was a work of art. In 2004 Manning set the NFL record for the highest pass efficiency in NFL history.
Tom also had extensive experience as a college coach spending time at Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota.
I had the good fortune of talking with Coach Moore at Jim McNally’s Western New York Football Clinic and it was a great experience. He is a true teacher of the game and a storehouse of knowledge of the game of football. The following are some things we discussed.
Tony: What are the most important traits you look for in a quarterback?
Coach Moore: The three things I look for are: number one decision making. He has got to understand the offense and put the ball where it’s supposed to be and deliver it on time. Secondly, he has to master the speed of the game. The game gets faster when you from college to the NFL. And thirdly he must be mentally and physically tough enough to handle the long NFL season. A lot of QBs wilt as the season wears on.
Tony: What is your Offensive Philosophy?
Coach Moore: Simple is best. Do less but do it better. Out execute the defense and break their will. There comes a point in every game where one team breaks the other team’s will. You do this by playing fast. The team that can play fast will break their opponent’s will. The only way you can play fast is if you know what you are doing. The way you get to that point is by having a few plays that you rep over and over again. Most teams try and do too much.
Tony: What are some ways an offense can simplify?
Coach Moore: Do what your players do best. Have a right wide receiver and a left wide receiver so you double the amount of reps they get. With the Steelers Lynn Swann played right wide receiver and John Stallworth played left wide receiver. Don’t do a lot of shifts because you are never sure how the defense is going to line up and you are not going to be able to check into a good play. Using audibles helps keep things simple because you only run certain plays vs. certain defenses so you don’t have to practice them against everything. Limit your play list and don’t waste reps in practice on plays you’ll never call. The smaller the play list the less waste you’ll have.
Tony: What about game planning?
Coach Moore: Do what you do. It starts with protection. You can’t win giving up sacks. If you get sacked in the NFL the chance of you scoring on that drive is 7%. So you can’t give up sacks. The Quarterback must direct the protections to pick up their rushers. You have to give him answers to their blitzes. We only use two formations 2 by 2 and 3 by 1. The reason is so we can protect the Quarterback. You have to have multiple protections so they can’t get a bead on it. We don’t worry about patterns until we have the protections in place. The ball must always be out of the Quarterback’s hands in less than three seconds if not it will be a sack.
Tony: What do you look at after protections?
Coach Moore: One thing I don’t do is self- scout, it’s a waste of time but it keeps the computer guys busy. You have to prepare and really coach up your red zone attack. The game changes in the Red Zone. You have to spend a lot of practice time on red zone offense. The next thing is first down. If you do a good job on first down, the other downs are easy. First down sets the tone for that series. I believe in using audibles so you have to school your QB to get you in the play you want. I also like to call repeats. For example I like to call 2 screen passes in a row or 2 Play action passes in a row or even 2 draws in a row. After you call the first one they don’t look for the second. The second play usually gains more than the first.
Tony: What last bit of advice can you give coaches?
Coach Moore: Be a teacher not a presenter. Learn how to teach technique. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know power point if you can teach technique. With all the technology today the best teachers win. Look at Belichick and Coughlin they are teachers. They have simple schemes but they can teach the techniques that make those schemes work. Designer offenses never last or win in the long run. A designer offense is just a collection of plays that have no connection with one another. I played for Forest Evashevski at the University of Iowa and we ran the Wing T & everything fit together. We had about 500 yards in the Rose Bowl. The guys who can teach players what they don’t know are coaches.
Tony: Coach – thanks for sharing these insights.